Alisal residents seek recall petition against Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter
March 20, 2013
Supporters of controversial Salinas Councilman Jose Castañeda filed a notice with the city today stating their intent to try to recall Mayor Joe Gunter.
The notice, which includes the signatures of 21 petitioners including vocal Castañeda supporter Juvenal Ibarra, alleges that Gunter, who took office in January, has engaged in divisive politics, wasted tax dollars and failed to address issues like crime, violence, jobs, housing, and business.
It also spotlights Gunter’s involvement in questioning whether Castañeda, also a member of the Alisal Union School District board of trustees, can legally retain both public offices at the same time.
Gunter, who sat behind a pile of paperwork and meeting agendas on his City Hall desk, says he has more pressing matters than a recall threat to work on. He defended his term, pointing to new businesses he’s attracted to the city as well as his work with the police department and the homeless community.
"They obviously don’t know what I’m doing,” Gunter says. “But it’s their right to file that, and it’s their right to go through the petition process."
The petitioners, residents of Castañeda’s East Salinas district, plan to circulate a recall petition that would remove the mayor from office.
The notice, addressed to Gunter, says: “We do not have the luxury to be victimized by your political schemes while our families continue to live in one of the most dense and populated areas in the nation, where we must face daily widespread gang violence, extreme poverty, high unemployment rates, substandard and unaffordable housing, and foreclosure.”
Recall supporters also accuse Councilmembers Gloria De La Rosa, Jyl Lutes and Kimbley Craig of colluding with the mayor in unlawful behavior. Those three councilmembers, along with Gunter, voted at Tuesday’s council meeting to seek approval from the Attorney General’s office to sue Castañeda and force his resignation from the school board seat.
City Clerk Patricia Barajas said she will try to respond to the advocates’ request for a recall petition as soon as possible, possibly by the end of this week.
If the request is deemed valid, supporters will be allowed to circulate a recall petition. Barajas is not yet sure how many signatures it would take to garner a recall election.
A recall election would cost the city more than $200,000, Gunter says.
In regards to the accusations that he has engaged in illegal activity Gunter replied: “As far as I know, Mr. Castañeda is the only one who has thumbed his nose to the law.”